Valkyrie Company provides a culture of encouragement, education, training, and support for gender non-majority fighters involved in Western martial arts, with the express purpose of "plugging the leaks" in the pipeline to leadership.
Our mission is to encourage, support, and help each other to train more effectively using methods suited to our physical, mental, and emotional strengths. We use our unique talents and skills to our advantage, and be our own best selves - with swords! We create an empowering environment for fighters who fall outside of the gender-majority.
Registered Badge: (Fieldless) A sword inverted argent winged at the blade purpure.
(Sometimes we decorate the wings with pride colors, but we have not registered that with any heralds.)
As a cadet, Marie de Girau struggled with plateaus and often felt she had a 'learning disability' around fighting, constantly struggling to learn and incorporate new skills, and always falling behind peers. One day, Marie encountered the article 'When Equal Isn’t Equal' and things clicked into place. She realized she did not have a learning disability, but was simply lacking in the basic foundational 'pre-fighting' skills a learner should have if they want to succeed. Skills like 'how to engage a muscle-group without tensing it' and 'how to be fast,' and 'how to compete but still be friends with my opponents.' These, and many more, are things the average SCA teacher expects a student to already embody, and most SCA instruction is shaped to jump off from these basic foundations – but Marie never learned them and could not advance in rapier without them.
So, she taught herself those 'Pre-fighting Skills.' She studied Sports Psychology, Sports Fitness and Strength Training, and Mental Toughness. Using books, and youtube videos, and advice from mundane martial arts instructors, she gradually began to improve as a fighter. She wished she could help others and one day she had the epiphany that, 'I don’t have to be a Dona or MOD to teach what I know. Marie asked her friend Diane, 'What if we did a bootcamp-thing where we could catch people up on these pre-fighting skills?'and Diane said, 'Let’s use my house. How’s next month for you?' They asked around until a group of 10-ish fighters who were able to commit to a weekend workshop. The first bootcamp was held in May of 2018, and there were 13 'campers.' Within a month from that camp, the supporting facebook group page had tripled in membership, and everyone was collaboratively planning the next bootcamp.
Valkyrie Company was founded in January 2018, in Ansteorra. It's founding members are Marie de Girau, Diane de Mallet, Rixende de Rouen, Layla bint Yusef, Drika van Sitteren, Valeria Richila Navarro, Thyrae, Sancha Galindo, Rolanda Rosner, Elspeth Moneypenny, Jocelyn Cranewall.
The Valkyries practice Collaborative Leadership. Anyone at any moment may become a leader and we specifically encourage people to do that.
Our members are Female and Non-Binary fighters of all skill levels! We are explicitly welcoming to trans and cis women as well as all nonbinary/genderqueer/agender/etc. folks.
Currently there are over 240 members across the known world.
Rules: Valkyrie Company has six rules of conduct (see below). If a member breaks a rule, whoever calls them out takes a *drink* but the offending member must hydrate.
Collaborative Competitiveness: We enjoy group activities and games that emphasize cooperation and collaboration. We also love games where all participants win - for example, leg-wrestling! In leg-wrestling, either you win by flipping your opponent, or you win by getting to do a fun somersault - there are no real losers in leg-wrestling.
Non-Fighting Valkyries: While Valkyrie Company was originally founded for fighters, we welcome non-fighting members. We love people who think it is fun to chase us down and ask us if we’ve had any water today.
Fighter Support: For major tournaments we encourage valkyries to hang a Valkyrie Banner in their pavilion and provide shelter to other valkyries. In Ansteorra we have started a tradition of setting up a specific Valkyrie-led hospitality space next to the list field. It is also important to us that each fighter has a support person who can receive salutes and remind us to drink water and we try to match supporters and fighters ahead of time, so everyone can plan their tournament day.
Camp Mom: We find that bootcamp flows best if there is a designated non-fighter who is free during the day to run a kitchen and be “mom.” This frees the fighters up to attend classes and workshops. We have a rotation of volunteers signed up to assist Camp Mom with chores, but no one person should feel pressured to miss more than one class in order to volunteer unless they just love working!
Child care: Many of our members have children. We recognize that it is often the female partner in a relationship who does the bulk of child-care tasks, and this time-commitment can impede her path as a fighter. Therefore, we provide a play area and volunteer-run childcare at our bootcamps. We encourage Valkyries to network for child-minding support during tournaments and fighter practices also.
The Library: Everyone who has books on Fighting, Sports Psychology, Gender Dynamics, Strength-Training, etc and wants to share with the group can bring their books to a bootcamp and exchange. We keep a database to help us track our books.
Rules of Conduct:
- No Negative Self-Talk; only Self-Encouragement
- No Opponents; only Training-partners
- No Apologies; Own your Success. (It’s okay to be a beginner)
- No Failures; only Learning Opportunities
- No Guilt!
- You are now an Athlete. Plan accordingly.
Additionally, we forbid bullying, gaslighting, harassment, and all other forms of mistreatment of others whether physical or verbal.
Pre-pandemic, the Valkyries hosted “bootcamps” twice a year in Texas. These were two or three-day weekends where members could socialize and learn from one another. Seminar topics and classes were taught at these bootcamps, ranging in subjects from self-esteem, communications and leadership skills, fighting techniques, learning styles, pre-fighting-skills, and general physical fitness. Attending bootcamp is optional for members of Valkyrie Company, and we usually averaged 24 attendees.
As soon as we all can feel safe to travel and gather again, we will be picking up and restarting the twice-per-year bootcamps.
During the Pandemic, we had one Virtual bootcamp and a series of volunteer-led classes about topics relevant to our members. We also have Zoom happy hours on alternating Fridays.
The Valkyries also have a Discord channel and Facebook Group for ongoing community and support.
Our companion group, The Einherjar, are partners and supporters of the Valkyries; allies and friends who do not otherwise qualify for membership in the main group.